Sunburn for 1/22 – A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

***Sunburn is sponsored by Tucker/Hall – one of Florida’s leading public affairs and public relations firms.***

HILLARY CLINTON TO SPEAK AT UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be in Florida next month, raising expectations she is moving closer to a 2016 White House run, writes Lucy McCalmont of POLITICO.

Clinton will deliver remarks at the University of Miami on Wednesday, Feb. 26 for an exclusive event for the UM campus and invited guests. Her speech starts at 8:30 p.m., with tickets will be available for students, faculty, staff and guests.

The release does not specify what topics or issues Clinton will discuss.

This will be the first time Clinton spoke at UM since 2008, when she spoke at a rally in the BankUnited Center just before ending her presidential campaign.

DRIVING NAT’L POLITICS – GOP EXPANDS THE SENATE MAP – via Patrick O’Connor of the Wall Street Journal

President Barack Obama’s sagging approval ratings and the rocky health-law rollout are expanding the map of competitive Senate races this year, giving Republicans new hope of capturing seats in states that the president carried in 2012. The GOP already had a strong opportunity to pick up a net six seats to win a Senate majority. Democrats have to defend many more seats than Republicans, including in seven states that Mr. Obama lost in 2012.

Now, polls show tighter-than-expected races for Democratic-held seats in Colorado, Iowa and Michigan, while a formidable Republican is challenging the Democratic incumbent in Virginia and another is weighing a bid in New Hampshire. In 2012, Mr. Obama won all five of those states. With Election Day more than nine months away, the question is whether this marks a low ebb for Mr. Obama and his party, or a lasting trend.

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IF YOU READ ONE THING – TRUST IN GOVERNMENTS SLIDES TO RECORD LOW AMID U.S. SPY PROGRAMS via Elisa Martinuzzi for Bloomberg.com

Trust in governments fell, making them the world’s least-trusted institutions for a third year, according to a survey published before policy makers and executives gather for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Faith in governments fell to 44 percent from 48 percent in 2013, according to the 2014 Trust Barometer survey published by Edelman, a public-relations firm. Trust in business held steady at about 58 percent, bringing its lead over government to the widest in the 14 years the poll has been taken.

Governments are struggling to maintain public trust amid the disclosure of U.S. spy programs by former contractor Edward Snowden and record unemployment in Europe. Confidence in government in the U.S. plummeted 16 points to 37 percent, Edelman said.

Trust in CEOs is at 43 percent, above the 36 percent score for government officials, according to the survey. Confidence in the media slipped 5 percentage points to 52 percent.

Banks and financial services were the least-trusted industries for the fourth year, scoring 51 percent, up 1 point from 2013, the survey shows. Technology companies topped the ranking again at 79 percent, up two percentage points from the previous year.

READ THIS, TOO – FLORIDA’S U.S. SENATORS CANCEL EACH OTHER OUT MORE THAN 49 OTHER STATE’S via Alicia Parlapiano of the New York Times

In the U.S. Senate, Florida’s votes are a zero-sum game — often they cancel each other out.

The New York Times posted a chart examining voting records of each state’s U.S. Senators, looking at how frequently they either agree or disagree.

Florida’s Senators — Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio — ranked second out of all fifty states in agreeing the least, with the two voting the same in a little over one-quarter of the votes cast.

The state offering the least agreement is Wisconsin, with Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and Democrat Sen. Tammy Baldwin agreeing exactly 25 percent of the time. Washington State stands at the opposite end of the spectrum, where there is 100 percent agreement between Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.

Utah Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee agree the least of states with two lawmakers from the same party; they agree 75 percent of the time. West Virginia’s Sens. Joe Manchin III and John D. Rockefeller IV are the two Democrats from the same state who disagree the most, they agree only 80 percent of the time.

***The 2014 Florida Health Care Affordability Summit, taking place in Orlando on January 29-31, 2014, will once again bring some of the most knowledgeable stakeholders in health care to the table – from experts on health plans, hospitals and providers, to our elected officials and some of Florida’s best employers – to participate in an open forum and continue the conversation on how we can make Florida healthier based on the guiding principle that quality health care should be affordable and accessible to all.***

FLORIDA LEADS NATION IN TEA PARTY MEMBERSHIP via William March of the Tampa Tribune

A study by a liberal advocacy group says Florida leads the nation in tea party members and organizations.

The study, done by the Seattle-based Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights finds Florida, the nation’s third-largest state, edges out the top two, California and Texas, because of the number of tea party members per capita and number of tea party organizations. The study said Florida has 36,423 tea party members compared to California’s 40,508 and Texas’s 39,442. But Florida outranked them in members per capita, and also scored high in the number of tea party organizations, 69.

The study found that even though sympathy for the tea party has declined somewhat since last fall’s government shutdown controversy, “core membership in the national Tea Party factions remains high, at over half a million people.” The number of tea party supporters, based on social media comments—tweets and Facebook “likes”—rose during 2013. It also said the gender breakdown among tea party sympathizers has remained steady since 2010, about two-to-one male.

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CD 13 SPECIAL ELECTION

SECOND POLL CONFIRMS DAVID JOLLY LEADS

A second poll, this one by nationally-recognized pollster Jim McLaughlin, finds that Republican David Jolly is leading Democrat Alex Sink in the special election for Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

Jolly currently leads Sink by 5 points, 43% to 38%, with 4% supporting the Libertarian candidate, Lucas Overby, and another 15% undecided.

These numbers confirm the findings released last week by St. Pete Polls and commissioned by this blog showing Jolly leading Sink by four points. “This survey confirms the publicly-released St. Pete Polls survey from Jan. 15th that showed David Jolly in the lead after his GOP primary victory,” writes McLauchlin.

What’s perhaps most interesting in these numbers is McLaughlin’s finding that among voters who had formed an opinion of both Jolly and Sink, Jolly’s lead increases significantly to a 21 point advantage, 58% to 37%, with 1% for Overby and 5% undecided.

McLauglin’s survey was conducted Jan. 16-19 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.9%.

LET’S SEE IF ALEX SINK CAN TAKE A POLITICAL PUNCH via Jeff Henderson of the Sunshine State News

Alex Sink has learned a lesson from old rival Rick Scott as she runs for an open congressional seat but Republicans want to see how she does under fire.

It’s easy to forget that Sink does not have much of an electoral background. While she might have been the only Florida Democrat besides Bill Nelson to win a statewide election in recent years, Sink has only won one election: she beat Tom Lee to become state CFO in 2006, but that’s the extent of her electoral triumphs.

This is a close race, to be sure, with a St. Pete poll showing Jolly ahead by 4 percent, even as national pundits think Sink has the momentum to win the race. But Sink has often failed to show the ability to take a punch politically. She tightens up when facing tough questions and can blow big moments like the debate with Scott and its aftermath.

Sink’s failure to brush off attacks and adversity does show her lack of electoral and campaign experience. Even with her success against Lee and being the widow of former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride, Sink’s background is much more tied into the private sector than in politics.

Republicans are hoping they can trip Sink up with a barrage of attacks. The blows directed at her started well before the Republican primary. This race will be greatly shaped by how Sink deals with attacks against her, and Jolly and the GOP will do their best to test her ability to take a punch.

DCCC AD PLAYS ON JOLLY’S LOBBYING PAST Watch the ad here

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s first ad against Jolly, which hits the airwaves Tuesday, goes after the Republican on his past lobbying work-an issue that’s already become a potent one in Florida’s 13th district special election.

“David Jolly’s proud to be a lobbyist,” the ad says, showing a clip of Jolly saying he’s “proud of the work I’ve done.”

The ad continues, “Is Jolly proud of lobbying for special interests that received over three million in taxpayer-funded earmarks? Or the firm lobbying for hundreds of millions for a dictator – in Pakistan?”

The DCCC dropped $200,000 on the buy, and the ad will run through next Monday in the St. Petersburg area.

DEMOCRATIC SUPER PAC TO SPEND $650,000 via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

House Majority PAC is preparing a $650,000 television campaign to back Alex Sink in her race against Republican David Jolly.

The ads are scheduled to run the weeks of Feb. 11 and 18, and are timed as mail-in ballots reach voters in Congressional District 13. House Majority PAC worked with Civis Analytics, which helped the Obama campaign target ads to voters.

POLITIFACT RULES HALF-TRUE: ALEX SINK “USED A TAXPAYER-FUNDED PLANE SO SHE COULD GET TO A VACATION IN THE BAHAMAS.” via PolitiFact Florida of the Tampa Bay Times

With the matchup now set for a March 11 special election for the U.S. House, the National Republican Congressional Committee has launched some familiar attacks against Alex Sink, the Democratic candidate and a former Florida chief financial officer.

“She used a taxpayer-funded plane so she could get to a vacation in the Bahamas,” the Web ad released Jan. 15 charges. It also lists a few other flight-related claims to bring the attack in for a landing.

The NRCC’s Web ad refers to the subsequent Florida Commission on Ethics investigation. In addition to a trip to the Bahamas, the ad said, she “spent $400,000 of taxpayer money to fly around the state” and “used the plane to attend political campaign events.”

There is a really big caveat here, however. The ethics commission found no evidence of wrongdoing by Sink (or by any of the other two politicians, for that matter).

When the commission asked Sink if she thought diverting flights to pick up her up or drop her off was an appropriate use of state resources — even if it was common among top officials — she answered, “Certainly it was, or else I wouldn’t have been doing it.”

The NRCC said in its ad that Sink “used a taxpayer-funded plane so she could get to a vacation in the Bahamas.” It’s true that she was headed to a vacation in the Bahamas, and it’s also correct that she took a state plane to reach her flight from the mainland after finishing her official business in Miami.

What’s not so obvious from the ad is that Sink was cleared of any violations of state law, and that her diversion of the flight headed back to Tallahassee was common practice at the time among senior officials.

On balance, PolitiFact rates the claim Half True.

MEANWHILE … DAN WEBSTER DRAWS ANOTHER DEM CHALLENGER Blog post here

Former Eustis City Commissioner Bill Ferree filed on Tuesday as a Democrat for Florida’s Congressional District 10, currently held by Republican U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster. CD 10 covers portions of Lake, Orange and Polk counties, including the cities of Eustis, Leesburg, Clermont and parts of Orlando.

Before running against Webster in November, Ferree must first face two other Democrats in the August primary — Michael McKenna from Davenport and Shayan Modarres from Orlando.

A 69-year-old former airline captain, Ferree served on the board of directors for the Lake-Sumpter Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization, as well as a school board member and school district labor negotiator in New Hampshire.

Ferree is also the author of Empty Tank, Empty Wallet, a book on ideas for improving America’s energy policy and economy.’

GWEN GRAHAM RECEIVES NATIONAL FIREFIGHTERS UNION ENDORSEMENT Full blog post here

Gwen Graham received a significant endorsement today in her campaign for Florida’s 2nd Congressional District from the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF).

Graham, daughter of former governor and Sen. Bob Graham, is the Democrat challenging Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland for the district covering Tallahassee and Panama City, as well as the eastern part of the Florida Panhandle.

“Every moment, whether on duty or off, fire fighters stand ready to put their lives at risk for the people they serve,” says Jim Tolley, President of IAFF affiliate, Florida Professional Firefighters. “We don’t ask for much in return, other than our elected officials to ensure that these public safety employees can earn a livable wage and receive the respect they are due for their public service.”

“Standing up for police and fire fighters is one of the basic responsibilities of every public servant, Republican or Democratic,” Graham responds. “Unfortunately, the partisan dysfunction in D.C. is too often standing in the way of focusing on this vital issue.

“In my book, given the risks that fire fighters take for us on a daily basis, they should know that their members of Congress will have their backs.”

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LAWSUIT FILED TO OVERTURN FLORIDA’S SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BAN via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

A half-dozen gay and lesbian couples backed by the Equality Florida Institute filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Miami looking to overturn the state’s 2008 constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

The lawsuit contends that the state prohibition violates the U.S. Constitution by denying same-sex couples the same legal protections given heterosexual couples.

The lawsuit has been brewing since last summer, when U.S. Supreme Court rulings struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and a same-sex prohibition in California. The rulings have clouded the future of same-sex marriage bans across the country. Utah and Oklahoma recently lifted marriage bans based on the high court ruling, although both actions are being appealed.

Democratic candidate for governor, Charlie Crist, wasted no time weighing in on the lawsuit.

“No one would want to be told they can’t marry the person they love,” Crist said. “It’s an issue of fairness and I’m proud to support it.”

Following last summer’s Supreme Court action, Gov. Rick Scott said that the 2008 same-sex marriage ban approved by 62 percent of voters remains “the law of the land.”

TWEET, TWEET: @CharlieCristFL: I’m proud to support the lawsuit challenging Florida’s ban on marriage equality. It’s an issue of fairness.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA SIGNATURES TOP 540K via Rick Outzen

With a surge of petitions before a Feb. 1 deadline, backers of a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize medical marijuana had submitted 542,211 valid signatures to the state as of mid-day Tuesday, according to the Florida Division of Elections website.

People United for Medical Marijuana must reach 683,149 valid signatures by Feb. 1 to get the proposal on the November ballot. The group also still needs Florida Supreme Court approval of the proposed ballot wording, which has drawn opposition from Attorney General Pam Bondi and Republican legislative leaders.

Gov. Scott maintained his opposition Tuesday to legalization. “I’ve said all along I’m against illegal drug use,” Scott told reporters after an appearance in Tallahassee. “I’ve watched how it impacts families. The attorney general gave her best advice to the Supreme Court.”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will make an “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget” funding announcement regarding the Florida Everglades at the Florida Cabinet meeting, according to a release.

CHANGES AFOOT IN SCOTT’S PRESS SHOP FOR COLLINS AND RUSSELL via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

As Gov. Scott’s communications director, Melissa Sellers, shifts to managing his campaign for re-election, changes are underway in his communications shop.

Replacing Sellers as communications director will be her deputy, Frank Collins III. Collins, like Sellers, was part of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s press operation before coming to Florida. The 29-year-old Collins held a variety of posts under Jindal including campaign field director, transition press assistant, assistant press secretary and press secretary before following Sellers to Tallahassee.

Collins is a native of Stonewall, LA and has a bachelor’s degree in international studies from LSU.

Also joining Scott’s revamped election-year press shop as deputy communications director is Monica Russell, who has been director of communications at the Department of Economic Opportunity. A University of Florida graduate; she previously was a partner in North Public Relations, a Tallahassee firm.

SCOTT SHIFTS PIEPENBRINK TO EXTERNAL AFFAIRS AS O’ROURKE DEPARTS

Gov. Scott has a new director of external affairs: Brad Piepenbrink will take the place of the departing Carrie O’Rourke, one of the original members of his administration.

Piepenbrink, who will earn $99,000 in his new post, has served as a deputy chief of staff in the Department of Education and previously was Scott’s travel aide. O’Rourke’s departure is effective Feb. 7. She texted a brief one-paragraph resignation to Scott’s office in late December, saying: “I have truly enjoyed my time working for Gov. Rick Scott over the past four years. It has been a pleasure to work under his leadership.”

O’Rourke wasn’t always on Scott’s side: She was the campaign finance director for his Republican rival, Bill McCollum, who lost the GOP nomination to Scott in 2010. O’Rourke’s sister Meredith serves as Scott’s campaign finance director.

MUSICAL CHAIRS ON THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION via Kathleen McGrory of the Tampa Bay Times

Is Highlands County citrus grower Andy Tuck the next member of the state Board of Education?

There’s been no formal announcement from Gov. Scott.

But at a Tuesday meeting in Miami, state Board of Education Chairman Gary Chartrand said Tuck would be joining the board in February.

He would likely replace former member Sally Bradshaw, who resigned in October.

Scott must also find a replacement for former state Board of Education member Barbara Feingold. Feingold asked not to be reappointed when her term ended in December so she could attend to personal matters.

The board also welcomed its newest member: the former executive director of Teach for America in Miami-Dade, Rebecca Fishman Lipsey.

Fishman Lipsey replaced former member Kathleen Shanahan.

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ENVIRONMENTALISTS TO PROTEST WATER QUALITY IN FLORIDA via Mike Salerno of the Tampa Tribune

Environmental groups will hold 16 rallies across the state Wednesday, including one in Tampa, to pressure state lawmakers into cleaning up Florida’s degraded waterways.

The rally in Tampa will be at 11 a.m. on the city’s Riverwalk behind the Straz Center. The events will include public signing by local residents of a Clean Water Declaration that declares Florida citizens have an “inalienable right” to clean drinking water, safe rivers, streams, lakes and bays, protection from water pollution, access to information about sources of pollution, and protection from water privatization.

Environmentalists have been at war with state officials over clean water protections for decades. In 2008, environmental groups sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, saying the federal government was violating the Clean Water Act by failing to set standards for farm and urban runoff into fresh waters and estuaries.

As a result, the EPA finally set standards in 2010 for phosphorus and nitrogen. These nutrients originate in fertilizers and untreated or under-treated sewage and can cause algae blooms that reduce oxygen in the waters.

The federal decision, however, ignited an uproar from state lawmakers, business leaders and utilities who said the EPA regulations were burdensome to business and taxpayers. The state sued the EPA in 2011 in an effort to block the new nutrient limits.

The environmental damage on both coasts was so severe that it got the attention of Florida legislators. A state Senate select committee has been looking at possible solutions, and Gov. Rick Scott has proposed $40 million to speed up completion of a project to clean water from Lake Okeechobee and stormwater runoff that fouls the lagoon and the Caloosahatchee River.

Florida’s booming population also is requiring more water to be drawn from the Floridan Aquifer, causing sinkholes and saltwater intrusion into the vast freshwater chamber.

FLORIDA’S RESTAURANT INDUSTRY POISED FOR GROWTH IN 2014 via Miriam Valverde of the South Florida Sun Sentinel and Dave Hodges of the Tallahassee Democrat

It appears Florida’s restaurants will be busier this year, as the industry expects to grow 4.5 percent, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2014 Restaurant Industry Forecast. Sales are projected to reach $34.6 billion, up from $33.2 billion in 2013.

This will mark the fifth consecutive year nationally of restaurant industry sales growth despite what analysts referred to as a continued challenging economic landscape. Florida will be one of the pacesetters.

Nationwide, industry sales are expected to exceed $683 billion, an estimated 3.6 percent increase from last year’s $659 billion, the NRA noted.

Florida is ranked third on the list of states projected to have the most growth in restaurant and food-service jobs through 2024, behind only Arizona and Texas.

An estimated 899,000 people will work at Florida restaurants this year, the report says, and about 134,600 jobs will be added over the next decade.

“This industry forecast indicates that the Sunshine State’s food-service industry is among the top in the nation, creating more employment opportunities for Florida families and multiplying choices for consumers across the state,” said Carol Dover, president and CEO of the FRLA.

***The Florida Smart Justice Alliances invites you to its third Annual Justice Summit from January 27th – 29th at the Hilton Altamonte Springs. The Summit’s theme is “Smart Alternatives for a Safer Florida.” The line-up of speakers includes Attorney General Pam Bondi, Florida Sheriff’s Association President and Polk Couty Sheriff Grady Judd, and nationally-renown criminal justice expert Prof. Ed Latessa from the University of Cincinnati. Panelists include Chief Judge Belvin Perry who oversaw the Casey Anthony case, among many other state officials and experts including about 20 legislators. Discussion panels will be held on incarceration levels, mental illness, juvenile justice, substance abuse treatment, recidivism, legislation, and more. Visit here for more information and to register.***

PASCO LEGISLATIVE DELEGATION MEETS

The Pasco County legislative delegation will meet to prepare for the 2014 legislative session. Charles S. Rushe Middle School, 18654 Mentmore Blvd., Land O’ Lakes. 1 p.m.

REP. HEATHER FITZENHAGEN LAUNCHES WEBSITE FOR PUBLIC SUPPORT OF “REBECCA’S LAW” Full blog post here

Fitzenhagen has launched PassRebeccasLaw.com, a website calling on the public’s help in passing  HB 451, a landmark anti-bullying bill.

“Rebecca’s Law” is named after 12-year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick, who committed suicide last year at an abandoned cement plant near her Polk County home.

Later, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd accused a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old of harassing and intimidating Sedwick so badly that she killed herself. Judd tried to charge both with felony aggravated stalking – the first time the statute applied to a cyberbullying case — but prosecutors later dropped charges against the two girls.

If passed, Fitzenhagen’s proposal would create two new classes of criminal offense in Florida: misdemeanor bullying and aggravated bullying, which would be a third-degree felony.

The bill defines bullying as harassing another person “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly.” Someone charged with aggravated bullying would be accused of “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly harasses or cyberbullies another person and makes a credible threat to that person.”

Punishment for bullying would vary based on the degree of the act, starting with fines up to jail time.

SENATE LEADERS WANT SPECIAL DISTRICTS COVERED BY STATE LOBBYIST REGISTRATION LAWS via Dan Christensen of the Broward Bulldog

Lawmakers say they will introduce reform legislation this session to require lobbyists at independent special districts to publicly register and disclose who they work for and how much they’re being paid.

Those often obscure, special-purpose governments spend billions of public dollars every year raised from taxpayers or through bond sales, fees or assessments. They outnumber Florida’s counties, cities, towns and villages more than two to one.

Only three independent special districts have adopted any kind of lobbyist registration requirements.

Legislators from both parties supported a change in state law to make lobbyist registration mandatory at special districts.

Most of Florida’s larger counties and cities have enacted lobbyist registration ordinances to promote integrity and transparency in the decision-making process. A notable exception: the city of Lakeland, with a 2012 citywide budget of $556.1 million.

In November 2011, however, a little-noticed survey by the Florida League of Cities found that “only 15 percent of municipalities require lobbyists to register in their city.”

Independent special districts provide dozens of specialized services to residents across the state, including hospitals, ports and airports, mosquito control, transportation and highways and community development. Collectively, they spend in excess of $11 billion in public funds annually.

SEN. RENE GARCIA RE-INTRODUCES MEDICAID EXPANSION BILL SNUBBED BY HOUSE GOP via Tia Mitchell of the Tampa Bay Times

Republican leaders in the Florida House may be pivoting to other health care topics, but their colleagues in the Senate are making sure Medicaid expansion will remain in the mix.

Sen. Rene Garcia, a Hialeah Republican, has filed legislation that mirrors last year’s Senate proposal to use $51 billion federal Medicaid expansion dollars to buy private insurance policies for poor Floridians. That bill had the support of the entire Senate, Gov. Rick Scott and House Democrats.

The legislation died in the House, where all but one Republican voted to support a rival plan that rejected the federal dollars.

“The amount of federal dollars available for the state of Florida to increase health coverage is substantial, and Florida would not be the first Republican led state to accept Medicaid expansion,” Garcia said via a press release announcing that he filed the bill. “There are currently eight states led by Republican governors or a majority Republican legislature who have agreed to provide expanded Medicaid to their constituents.

“I hope the house puts aside partisan politics and does what is right for the hard working people of our great state,” he said.

The bill hasn’t yet showed up on tracking websites, but a spokesman for Garcia says it’s in the final proofing stages and will be posted soon.

EDITORIAL: STATE SHOULDN’T SHUTTER BLAKE’S TRAUMA CENTER via the Bradenton Herald

The Legislature should hear this message from Manatee County residents and Blake Medical Center: Don’t close the Bradenton hospital’s 2-year-old trauma center. The bitter battle between the state’s two newest trauma units and nearby long-established centers has spawned numerous lawsuits, and this week the House Health Innovation subcommittee dove into the issue.

The hospitals are fighting over patients and their payments — not their health, not their lives. St. Joseph’s Hospital and Tampa General Hospital recently asked the First District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee to shutter trauma centers at Blake and Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Pasco, specifically citing economic hardship from the competition and challenging the legality of the new units.

According to Blake officials, the patient loss in the two older centers has been negligible. The court should be interested in hearing the hard numbers.

The state Department of Health has been dragging its feet in rewriting rules that determine where trauma centers can be located, updating antiquated regulations. This, too, is part of the hospital battle.

Oddly enough, both St. Joseph’s and Tampa General reside in Tampa. How does one city deserve two trauma units while none existed in Manatee and Sarasota counties until Blake opened one? Plus, there’s Bayfront Medical Center’s center in St. Petersburg, which is also involved in the lawsuits. Three in one metropolitan area raises questions about oversaturation.

This is about saving lives with more expeditious emergency care.

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EMAIL OF THE DAY – “When a Marine endorses you” via House District 65 hopeful Chris Sprowls

ERIC EISNAUGLE DRAWS A PRIMARY OPPONENT

Former State Representative Eric Eisnaugle kicked his campaign into full gear this past weekend in a bid to return to Tallahassee in the House District 44 Race.

Eisnaugle began walking the district with volunteers this past weekend and also started running radio ads last week. His “What’s an Eisnaugle” spot was heard by some local Politicos in the area. It’s a similar ad that he run in his previous campaigns. He looks to capitalize on his name ID and heavy warchest to get the message out about his campaign.

But he’ll have to go through a primary first.

Fellow Republican and Tourism/Resort Director Stephen Facella filed to run against Eisnaugle last Friday. I spoke to him by phone yesterday and he was collecting petitions when I called him. He was excited and told me he would send along a formal statement about his run.

JAY TRUMBULL TRUMPS HIS COMPETITION AGAIN IN FUNDRAISING via Matthew Beaton of the Panama City News Herald

Jay Trumbull continued to lap his opponents in the fundraising race in December, as he seeks the state House District 6 seat.

Trumbull, of Panama City, followed up a strong November when he raised about $30,000 to pull in another $26,375 in monetary contributions in December. He now has $56,660 total and has spent about $8,000 so far, according to the state’s Division of Elections website.

Eight candidates are vying to replace Republican state Rep. Jimmy Patronis, who is term-limited; they include five Republicans and two Democrats and one Green Party.

Melissa Hagan has the second-largest war chest for the Republican primary. She raised $2,550 in monetary contributions in December. She’s received a total of about $39,000 from loans and cash donations and spent about $7,300.

Thelma Rohan pulled in $1,300 in monetary contributions in December and also gave herself a $5,000 loan; she has $23,600 total, between loans and cash donations, and has spent about $150.

Tho Bishop raised $1,000 in cash donations in December and has received a total of $2,750. He’s spent about $2,100 so far.

Democrat Jamie Shepard took in $1,100 in monetary contributions in December and has about $5,950 total. She has spent about $3,700.

Other candidates — Henry Lawrence, Brian Rust and Mark Anderson — either had no contributions or received a waiver on their filing.

REP. JASON BRODEUR JOINS HOUSE COLLEAGUES IN ENDORSING DANNY BURGESS FOR STATE HOUSE

State Rep. Jason Brodeur announced his support of Zephyrhills Mayor Danny Burgess in his race for the House District 38 seat currently held by Speaker Will Weatherford.

“I am delighted to endorse Danny Burgess for State House, District 38,” says Brodeur, who represents much of Seminole County in House District 28. “Danny is a committed conservative who will bring new life to timeless principles.”

“In addition, Danny brings a wealth of experience, service, and leadership abilities to the task ahead and will be a welcome new face in the House.”

“It’s an honor to receive the endorsement of one of Central Florida’s leaders in the State House,” Burgess responds. “Representative Brodeur and I are both committed to advancing common sense, conservative principles to build a stronger Florida.”

“I’m thrilled to have his support and will work each and every day to live up to the faith and trust he’s put in me and our campaign.”

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CONTEXT FLORIDA: IN-STATE TUITION, ALEC’S POWER, ANGER AND GUNS, AND “START” OF THE 2016 RACE

On Context FloridaI begin by giving “good odds” for Florida to provide in-state tuition for undocumented students. People are worried that powerful corporations, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), have undue influence on legislatures across the country, writes Mark Ferrulo, executive director of Progress Florida. Julie Delegal talks about an increasing sense of anger and aggressiveness in society, combined with an attachment to guns, which further proves that Americans cannot responsibly handle firearms. With the recent furor and hyperbole, the race for the White House in 2016 is “unofficially on,” saysBob Sparks.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

MOSAIC AIMS AT EXCLUSIVE, LUCRATIVE INTERNATIONAL MARKET WITH NEW STREAMSONG CENTER via Kevin Bouffard of the Lakeland Ledger

Streamsong Resort in southwestern Polk County opens Friday with an ambitious goal.

“One of our big ambitions is to be one of the top 10 golf resorts in the world,” said Tom Sunnarborg, vice president for land development and management with Mosaic Co., the resort’s owner. “People who come to Streamsong are alpha golfers.”

Mosaic, which owns 250,000 acres in Central Florida, chose the Streamsong site purposefully for its remote location, which offers “an immersion into natural Florida,” said David Townsend, a company spokesman.

Streamsong’s pampering amenities include a full-service spa called the AcquaPietra, which has a grotto-style design with seven wading pools, nine massage rooms and a hair and nail salon for men and women, Morgensen said. It also has several restaurants, including the high-end Sottoterra restaurant featuring a light Italian cuisine, emphasizing fresh seafood.

The current in-season room rate ranges from $400 a night to more than $1,000 for a two-bedroom suite, Morgensen said. Off-season rates dip as low as $285 per night.

For the golf courses, greens fees start at $180 for walkers and $210 with a golf cart, which includes a mandatory forecaddy (tip not included).

With 18,500 square feet of meeting and conference space, Streamsong also hopes to attract small to medium (fewer than 200 people) corporate functions, he said.

NEW PUBLISHER NAMED FOR THE LEDGER via John Ceballos of the Lakeland Ledger

Kevin Drake, publisher of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, has been named the new publisher of the Ledger Media Group, publisher of the Lakeland Herald.

The announcement was made Tuesday by Halifax Media Group CEO Michael Redding and South Region Publisher Jim Doughton. The Ledger Media Group and the Spartanburg Herald-Journal are both Halifax properties.

Drake, 44, began his newspaper career in 1997 in Spartanburg, S.C., where he spent four years in advertising sales before moving on to a management position within the same department. In 2005, he moved to Hendersonville, N.C., to become the advertising director for the city’s Times-News. His time at the Times-News also included a brief stint as publisher in 2009.

After that, Drake became regional sales director for Halifax’s Western Carolinas Cluster. In July 2012, Drake was named the publisher of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.

He replaces Jerome Ferson, who resigned last week. Drake’s official start date is yet to be determined, but it is expected to be within the next four weeks, according to the Halifax announcement.

Allen Parsons will continue to serve as the Ledger Media Group’s interim publisher.

***Madison Social – Tallahassee’s Hottest Spot – is your location for lunch, happy hour, and dinner. Catering for your meetings are also available. For lunch service, complementary valet is available so you can leave the office and return within one hour. To see our menu, please visit here.***

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Senator Tom Lee and Jon Costello. Celebrating today is Senate President Don Gaetz and Tim Center.

ROGER GOODELL READY TO TACKLE ELEMENTS AT SUPER BOWL via the Associated Press

He’ll be wearing a coat and no doubt gloves.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will be like most other folks at the Super Bowl on Feb. 2 in East Rutherford, N.J. — he’ll be outside.

The league says the commissioner will be sitting in the elements as he regularly does at games — rain or shine, cold or warm.

SUPER BOWL TICKETS A HOT ITEM FOR CHILLY NY-AREA GAME via Larry Fine of Reuters

Tickets to the National Football League’s first cold-weather Super Bowl are a hot item, with some climate-controlled suites in New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium priced at $1 million.

Following Sunday’s conference championships that set up a Denver-Seattle Super Bowl on February 2, the average resale price of tickets on secondary markets was $3,721, the highest figure in five years of tracking, according to SeatGeek (seatgeek.com).

No single ticket on the secondary market had sold for under $2,000, a price that was 33 percent more than what the cheapest ticket sold for on conference championship Sunday during each of the past three NFL playoffs, the website said.

Face value of individual Super Bowl tickets ranges from $1,000-$2,600.

For high rollers, one suite on the Commissioner’s Level of MetLife Stadium, the shared home of the New York Giants and New York Jets, is listed for $1.019 million. The same luxury suite for an entire Giants or Jets regular season sells for $350,000.

There were more than 12,000 tickets listed on secondary markets as of late Sunday, representing roughly 15 percent of the capacity at MetLife Stadium.

Goodell often sits in the stands or is in a luxury box that has outdoor seats. He’s done that in the past, even in serious chill.

He sat in the stands in Minnesota at the outdoor game after the Metrodome roof collapsed in 2010. He also once sat at a game in Chicago where he said his beer froze.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.